Scalia on the Second Amendment

In the majority decision in the SCOTUS case of District of Columbia v. Heller, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia writes, “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

Was Scalia a left-wing extremist who wanted to eliminate the Second Amendment? Was Scalia a protégé of Hitler, Stalin or Castro?

No, of course not. Scalia was just the opposite. In District of Columbia v. Heller, Scalia makes it clear that the right to keep and bear arms belongs to individual citizens, not just to the individual states. Yet, even he knew that the Second Amendment did not bar all forms of gun control.

The above-quoted opinion about the Second Amendment is shared by the other SCOTUS Justices who joined Scalia in the majority in District of Columbia v. Heller, those Justices being Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alto, Jr.

That the Court’s conservative Justices share such an opinion is evident in the Court’s recent decision not to review a ruling made by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. A 06/20/16 story by The Hill explains:

The Supreme Court on Monday denied review of a case challenging Connecticut’s ban on assault weapons. The case stems from legislation enacted in both New York and Connecticut in the wake of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., which left 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7 dead, as well as six adult staff members. Gun rights advocates argue the bans violate their Second Amendment right to bear arms and that certain provisions are constitutionally vague. In October, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the bans. It said the core provisions of the New York and Connecticut laws prohibiting the possession of semiautomatic assault weapons and large-capacity magazines do not violate the Second Amendment and provisions in the laws are not vague. “Because the prohibitions are substantially related to the important governmental interests of public safety and crime reduction, they pass constitutional muster,” the court said.

So, one isn’t siding with the ruthless dictators of human history when one advocates for reasonable limits on firearms. Even Antonin Scalia believed that reasonable limits existed.

Americans can politely disagree with each other about what those reasonable limits are.

Antonin Scalia

Antonin Scalia

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